Retirement is different for everybody. It’s a huge milestone moment in one’s life where one reflects on their past and then looks ahead to the future.
Workers spend many decades planning their retirement effectively and thinking of everything they might need to accomplish in that time. There’s one thing they cannot always prepare for, though; the emotions felt when the inevitable day arrives.
Many professionals prefer to slip away quietly when it’s time to retire. However, as a colleague to these individuals, you have the potential to help them depart the workplace with their heads held high. If they go with grace, dignity, and contentment, it can be the cherry on the cake to what was hopefully a long and illustrious career.
So, what can you do to help your colleagues retire proudly? Read on after the jump.
Mention How They Helped You
Even people working jobs they hate like to know they made a difference. Could you be a shining example of how positively influential your retiring colleague was in the workplace?
While there are many ways to overcome workplace anxiety, some might find that making a new friend in a colleague can make a world of difference in how fast they settle in. Did your retiring workmate make you feel welcome? Perhaps you worked there first, but they helped you out of a jam at another time or other? Many companies are becoming more team-oriented, so even if you were in different departments, chances are they have helped you somehow.
Even something more regular, such as a smile or small talk, is noteworthy and worth mentioning to your colleagues before they retire. If they’ve contributed to the friendly and pleasant atmosphere of the work culture, then it will undoubtedly make the business a better place to work.
Emphasize how the retiree-to-be has set up the company for the future. It can be easy to be drawn into sadness, but none should want to stew in misery. The best way to counter that personally is to acknowledge how your colleague has been there for you. Give them that recognition.
Throw a Party
Retirees appreciate it when people attend a party on their behalf. However, the organizer may perhaps fall into a higher tier of gratitude.
Throw a party for the retiring colleague. Even if you’d be stepping outside of your comfort zone in doing so, they’d undoubtedly be touched that you went the extra mile and did some work to put something together. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even enjoy the event too!
It’s easy to find retirement party ideas online if your creativity isn’t flowing. There’s karaoke, afternoon tea, virtual versions of a party, photo booths, sporting tournaments, and more. Choose something that will resonate with your workmate. If you think they’d prefer a smaller event with closer friends, favor that.
It may be useful to gauge or remember whether the colleague is a fan of surprise parties. That way, you can ensure your arrangements won’t inconvenience them. After all, not everybody likes to be the center of attention. Get a feel for what type of celebration they might like, and do your best to adhere to those preferences.
Suggest a Speech
Great parties often have excellent speeches. Suggest that your colleague say a few words at whatever gathering they enjoy.
Consider approaching them privately to propose the idea. That way, you can give them room to politely decline if public speaking isn’t their forte. If they’re open to the idea, they will at least have some time to prepare. Try to give them a few days’ notice if they’re aware of the party beforehand. If it’s a surprise, suggest the idea as soon you can after the start of the party, and then schedule their speech for the end, so they have time to think.
Speeches can seem more powerful when an enthralled crowd loves them. Be sure to be attentive as they talk, and cheer, whoop, and laugh if that’s the reaction they’re looking for. Your engagement may influence that of others and help the send-off be even more special for it.
Stay in Touch
The parties don’t have to stop the minute the retirement-themed one ends. The retiring colleague can be invited to other workplace get-togethers in future, too.
Some people need help when it comes to making friends at work, but when they do stick to the landing, these connections can be lifelong and meaningful. They don’t need to end because people don’t work together anymore. Endeavor to stay in touch.
Social media can be brilliant for fostering those connections. Whether you’re in each other’s IMs, ringing and texting, or meeting up outside, it can help keep those bridges strong.
Even though retirement begins the moment the ex-worker signs off for the last time, there can still be a prolonged adjustment period. Depending on the line of work, the mental shift can be a slow evolution. Retirement may not hit home for days, weeks, or longer, so staying in touch can ensure the colleague is looked after, no matter their experience.
Post the Farewell Online
Social media can be used for staying in touch, but it can also put a neat little bow on the working together side of things. After all, people often get sentimental online, and it’s often a place where fond farewells are chronicled.
Consider announcing the departure of the retiree on the company’s social media. Improve the meaningfulness of the post by:
- Posting pictures – A collage including a profile shot and photos of retiring staff members at different work-related events may be touching. A first day and last day photo comparison can also be touching.
- Inviting their tribute – The retiree may wish to say goodbye to the business in their own words. Invite them to write a few words themselves, though don’t demand it of them, as they may prefer not to.
- Enabling comments – Workers may wish to express their good wishes very publicly. The retiree may also wish to reply in the same fashion and feel glad that all may see such displays of affection. Others outside the business may wish to express gratitude too.
- Posting to multiple platforms – It’s easy to have preferential treatment of certain platforms, but the announcement should be made wherever the company has a digital presence.
Everyone is online today. It’s the best way to post your appreciation.
Note Potential Reservations
Retirement is often framed as an all-out positive escape from the working world. It’s not always the case, though.
Many people have little else but work to get on with. If their home life isn’t very good, or if hobbies are lacking, it’s quite possible your retiring colleague fears spending the rest of their days in an empty home, wondering how to fill their time. It’s a bleak image, and it’s important to be sensitive to those situations, even if your colleague is at least pretending they’ll be fine.
Ask about the colleague’s interests. You could mention local clubs in the area or volunteer organizations where their talents would be useful. It’s never too late to learn new skills, and they can keep advancing their learning journey.
Approach these discussions tactfully and refrain from advising or lecturing them. After all, not many people like to be pitied. You could even frame these discussions around your own eventual retirement plans. That way, your words may give your colleague some hope and encouragement that life will go on.